Patriots: Julian Edelman update shows he’s not guaranteed to return in 2021

Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots will be faced with some tough decisions this offseason, as the fifth-year deadline is approaching for a handful of former rookies.

Perhaps more pressure-inducing is the fact that they have a string of important players — like Joe Thuney, David Andrews, James White and Jason McCourty (among others) — slated to hit free agency next month, and there’s been no evidence to suggest that any listed player will return.

Facing their most important offseason in recent memory, the Patriots will also have to decide on which players will end up being cap casualties.

The Patriots have a Julian Edelman problem

It goes without saying that Julian Edelman fits the bill of somebody who could bite the bullet in the coming months after his injury-riddled campaign.

Well, if the latest update on Edelman’s ongoing knee rehab was indicative of anything, it’s that the 34-year-old wideout is no guarantee to return to the Patriots — and it might be his own body’s decision.

Per insider Ian Rapoport, Edelman wants to play in 2021, but is unsure of whether his knee will be fully recovered in time.

This update further confirms that the Patriots are the masters of manipulation when it comes to informing the media on player injuries. When Edelman underwent surgery at the end of October, there was speculation that he could return to the field before the end of the regular season.

However, after the Patriots started the clock on his activation from injured reserve, it slowly became apparent that his season was over. When all was said and done, his undisclosed injury forced him to miss the final 10 games of the year.

It would be nice to know what specifically Edelman is dealing with here, but the fact that he’s seemingly still feeling the effects over three months removed from the “minor” procedure suggests that he’s in serious danger of not being able to play at all next season.

We’ve been adamant in declaring that the Patriots should look to keep Edelman around for the final year of his contract to serve as a veteran mentor to their young receiving corps, but this update makes it seems like the former seventh-round pick is a real candidate to be cut.

That would be a miserable way for his Patriots tenure to end, but given that the front office could free up approximately $3.5 million in cap space by releasing (or trading) him, you have to think they’re at least considering it.

Edelman is as tough and gritty as they come, so it would be wrong to write him off entirely this early into the offseason.

However, if the fan base should take anything away from this shocking update, it’s that they should start picturing a world in which the three-time champion is no longer a member of the Patriots.